What Are Sustainable Development Goals and How Are Startups Meeting Them?

What Are Sustainable Development Goals and How Are Startups Meeting Them

As the climate emergency intensifies, businesses need to do their part in combating climate change.

The global community has become increasingly concerned about climate change in 2021. The International Panel on Climate Change released a report in August 2021, saying that unless there is a large-scale reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, it will be beyond mankind’s reach to limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5°C or even 2°C.

Additionally, in 2021, we have also seen examples of what climate change has in store for our future. Floods across Europe, China and India are all indicators of the pressing need to prioritize the environment. In such circumstances, it has become pertinent for budding startups to incorporate sustainability as a part of their business model. The United Nation’s (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) act as a blueprint for businesses seeking to adopt sustainable practices. 

Let’s learn about the UN’s SDGs and how startups are becoming more sustainable. 

SDGs and startups

The UN came up with a list of 17 SDGs as a part of The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which was adopted by all UN member states in 2015. These cover rights to food, physical and social well-being, equality and environmental conservation.

Of the 17 SDGs, three are focused on environmental conservation, namely affordable and clean energy (SDG 7), responsible consumption and production (SDG 12) and climate action (SDG 13). Let’s examine these three SDGs and the startups that have been working towards achieving them.

Affordable and clean energy

SDG 7 is targeted towards ensuring “access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.” To achieve this, startups need to make a decisive shift away from fossil fuels towards clean energy solutions.

Some startups, such as the French company BeFC, have established their businesses around generating clean energy. BeFC creates a sustainable paper-based energy source for low-power electronics. Their paper-based biofuel cells use enzymes to convert sugars and oxygen into electricity. The company was the winner of the SDG 7 category in the Sustainable Development Goals startup competition in 2020. 

Responsible consumption and production

SDG 12 is geared towards ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns to prevent over-consumption of Earth’s resources. One of the targets under SDG 12 is to halve the per capita food waste by 2030. 

To this effect, the Singapore-based company Lumitics has established a food waste disposal system called Insight to track and measure the quantity of food waste disposed into it. The company was the winner of the SDG 12 category in the SDGs startup competition in 2020. (Read more about Lumitics here!)

Climate action

SDG 13 emphasizes the importance of combating climate change. With the previously mentioned floods and rising global temperatures, it is evident the threat of climate change requires immediate attention. 

One of the startups working proactively towards reducing the impact of climate change is the Spain-based ClimateTrade. The company connects businesses that are looking to offset their carbon emissions to verified environmental projects. They offer businesses total traceability of the environmental projects they have invested in by using Blockchain technology. ClimateTrade was the winner in the SDG 13 category in the SDGs startup competition in 2020.

How to follow in the footsteps of these startups?

To make sure your business aligns with the SDGs, an entrepreneur needs to think about the social impact of their idea before they even start. You must identify what your business seeks to achieve and, based on that spot, which SDGs your business can achieve. 

Once your startup is up and running, it is important to regularly check how effective it has been in realizing the SDGs it seeks to achieve. Besides, you can also collaborate with other like-minded entrepreneurs or startups to meet the SDGs. Collaborating with others can lead to large-scale change and accelerate the speed of environmental conservation.

Header image courtesy of Freepik

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